Does the Crime fit the Punishment?

At Webster Consulting we like to inform people about some of the potential dangers of modern computing. Whether that be on a traditional pc, smart phone or the new iPad. We don’t like to single out any particular country or region however the article below gives you the reader an indication of how BIG the problem really is.

Internet swindlers’ incomes in the Russian cyberspace exceed $1 billion a year. This data is given by Sergey Golovanov, a leading analyst at the Kaspersky Laboratory. According to his approximate estimates, every year 20 million users become victims of Internet malefactors in Russia alone.

Any senior school student with average computer literacy dreams of trying their hand at hacking. Cracking a licensed programmme or breaking into a classmate’s page on a popular social networking site seems quite a harmless joke at first. Gradually acquiring a taste for this activity in cyberspace, young hackers often start looking for material benefits.

The more skilled the malefactor, the more sophisticated and unusual are their methods of breaking into other people’s computers, experts say. Swindlers steal confidential and personal information with the help of various viruses, worms and trojans. The most popular targets for theft are e-mail and web services credentials, electronic purse passkeys and on-line games. Then this information paves the way for spamming, might be sold or plainly used for direct theft.

“It often happens that users themselves do not take care of the confidentiality of their data on the Internet,” says Pavel Lebedev, the leader of the Internet World project of the Public Opinion Foundation.

“We have very interesting figures that say that about 60% of people have the same password for all their mailboxes, social network accounts, etc. This means that cracking only one element from a number of different sites allows a wrong-doer to gain access to the rest of this person’s data warehouses.”

The cybercrime problem can be solved through simultaneously doing two things, Pavel Lebedev believes. The first is raising common computer literacy.

“I do not mean that people should be taught to use certain programmes but it should be explained to them that leaving personal data on digital carriers is the same as leaving it on paper. Moreover, stealing things in the digital world is much easier because everything is more open and available.”

Secondly, it is necessary to fine-tune the law. No more than 5-6 people a year are prosecuted for cybercrime in Russia. The number of crimes is higher manifold. Apart from that, the punishment is incomparable with the payoffs, so even when exposed, malefactors do not give up their illegal activities in the future.

Amendments to the law on personal data became effective in Russia in January 2011. They are aimed at protecting this data on the Internet. Experts believe that this is not enough, but this is only the beginning.

What do you think? Please add comments below.

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